What if something happened to you while you were traveling in a foreign country? What if you needed medical care? What would you do?
Would your medical insurance cover you? Most likely not. Most health insurance from the US does not provide coverage outside of the continental US. Or, they may say they do, but have you ever tried to find a network provider for your plan in Timbuktu? It’s very likely there isn’t one.
So, if you have an illness or injury, are you prepared to cover the cost out of your pocket? As in up front, in order to get treated? What if you were in a bus accident, rendered a little loopy from a head injury, in a country that may not have many English speakers? Would you be able to make the necessary arrangements to get your injury paid for in advance and treated?
Since our domestic insurance doesn’t work in foreign countries, most hospitals would require you pay for your treatment in full, sometimes before they will even give you so much as an aspirin. Most of them will require cash, a few will take credit cards. But considering how quickly medical costs can add up, do you really carry enough cash on vacation or have enough available credit on your Mastercard to cover a sizeable claim? Then, when you do get home, do you really have the time to wait to “maybe” get reimbursed by your insurance only to find out it all applies as non-network benefits, meaning reduced reimbursement? Of course, hopefully you remembered to ask for an itemized bill translated into English when you paid your claim or that could add more time to your reimbursement.
This is where travel insurance could be one of the best decisions you may ever make. Most policies can:
- provide help for you to find quality care, anywhere in the world
- cover your treatment costs–most begin payment after you pay the deductible
- help transport you (and even family members) home as soon as you are stabilized
Some policies even build in some non-medical benefits such as:
- assistance recovering stolen passports or other documents
- help coordinating emergency funds transfers
- legal referrals
- coverage for lost or delayed baggage
- even reimbursement for trip cancellation or interruption
While I don’t usually consider the non-medical benefits when purchasing trip insurance– I want it to cover the big ticket items and get me home in an emergency–it is nice to know that the non-medical perks are there.
Most policies can be purchased for the price of a tank of gas for your car. When pricing policies, here are the ones I like:
UHC GLOBAL–it’s a subsidiary of United Health Group. They have a pretty rich travel plan that recently priced a $1,000,000 policy at $30 for a 1 week trip to Mexico.
GEOBLUE–a subsidiary of Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield. They offer various coverages such as vacation, long-term multi-trip, and expatriate. They do require that you also already have a primary health plan, but it does not need to be an Anthem plan. Their coverage was also for $1,000,000 in medical for $25 for the same 1 week trip to Mexico.
WORLD NOMADS–their plan came in a little higher for the same Mexico vacation at $69 for a $100,000 plan. However, WORLD NOMADS also offers the flexibility of extending your coverage while you’re already using it.
You enroll for any of these plans easily online, choosing your deductible and amount of coverage. All of these carriers also have an option for long-term coverage, up to 90 days continuous, that can run through a full year at a time.
Considering the costs of a serious, high-dollar claim, these premiums add value. Even if you never use the insurance while abroad, you’ve still purchased some valuable peace of mind.